TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — A casino could generate $168 million for Vigo County according to a recent study.
The Advance West Central Indiana Political Action Committee Monday released the results of the study conducted by the Innovation Group, a gaming consulting firm.
Matt Bell, president of the Casino Association of Indiana, said those living in Vigo County could reap the benfits of the multi-million dollar economic impact if they vote “yes” for Question One on November’s ballot.
“I wouldn’t tell you that gaming is a silver bullet. It’s a complement to a local economy,” Bell said. “We think that a casino in West Central Indiana will support 800 jobs throughout the community–full and part time. And those are direct jobs.”
In addition to the projected 800 jobs that would come to the area… The study says construction of the casino would have an economic impact of over $80 million.
The Indiana statewide gaming market assessment and economic impact analysis compared the casino’s potential economic impact to that of other cities in Indiana and Illinois.
According to the study, Vigo County would see more than $26 million in labor income and a $34 million impact in wages, benefits and taxes.
“Overall, our projections show more than $160 million in economic impact in Vigo County and West Central Indiana,” Bell said. “That’s the kind of development we’ve seen in other communities where gaming has become part of the economic development mix.”
Terre Haute Police Chief Shawn Keen said several peer-reviewed studies were used to determine if there’s a link to casinos and crime rates.
“What that told us was that overall that the studies do not indicate that the presence of a casino will lead to an increase in crime in those communities, Keen noted”
Indiana State University economics professor Dr. Bob Guell warned research shows there is something else to note about casinos.
“The foremost economic expert on casinos, Dr. Thomas Garrett of the Univeristy of Mississippi has noted that relatively poor communities the addition of a casino will add something like 10% to the number of personal bankruptcies in that area,” Guell said.
Whether or not a casino will be built in Vigo County is up to the voters during November’s municipal election. Those outside city limits will still be able to vote on the casino referendum.
“We need everyone to step forward and show the State of Indiana that we’re open for business here in Terre Haute,” said Sen. Jon Ford.